Morgen on December 29, 2009 at 11:02 am
I think everyone would agree that the stupidest thing Janet Napolitano has said all year is that the “system worked” in reference to the failed terror attack on on Northwest flight #253 on Christmas Day. The second stupidest thing Napolitano has said this year, in my opinion, is most likely something you have not heard. Because back in March CNN decided to scrub a portion of an interview with Napolitano discussing her assessment of domestic security threats. Her unaired comments are especially relevant in light of the questions now being asked about whether Homeland Security has placed an adequate focus on the ongoing threat posed by Islamic terrorists.
BLITZER: Do you still use that phrase that there is a war on terror.
NAPOLITANO: Yes. Well, yes. Terrorism is a threat that is with us and sadly enough will never go away. The thing is not to create fear about it but to say look, there is risk of terror either coming from abroad or homegrown. It’s about preparation and being able to recover so that people have the confidence that goes with knowing that we’re prepared.
BLITZER: And so do you still consider the United States be engaged in the war on terror?
NAPOLITANO: I consider the United States, yes, to be very engaged in and working with our international partners and others in preventing terrorist acts from occurring.
BLITZER: Is it a bigger threat from your perspective and other [ed. - another?] al Qaeda and foreign related terror attack against the United States or domestic terrorism along the lines of an Oklahoma City bombing?
NAPOLITANO: That’s difficult to say because both are risks that are with us and will be with us and so what the American people need to know is that the Department of Homeland Security, as the secretary of Homeland Security, we’re thinking all the time about these issues. We’re working all these times on what we can do realistically to prevent, to interfere but also to prepare should something happen.
Check out John’s earlier post for the full context of Napolitano’s final response above, but the short version is that the DHS had just released an extensive report on the threat of “right-wing” extremists. It had generated some controversy within the media because among other things the report had singled out military veterans as likely recruiting targets for domestic extremists. So Blitzer posed the question to her whether she viewed Al Qaeda as a greater threat to domestic security than homegrown terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh.
And Napolitano was unable to say!
As John said earlier, is this even a close call? Napolitano’s equivocating over the relative seriousness of these threats is completely ridiculous. It’s insane. And this is the person who is in charge of Homeland Security.
I suspected at the time that Napolitano’s statement was more a reflection of political correctness on her part than a sincere belief. But even if this is the case it’s only slightly less dangerous. As the politically appointed leader of a bureaucracy as vast as DHS, expressions of political correctness can easily gestate into a culture of complacency. And I fear this is what we are seeing in the government’s failure to connect the dots with Nidal Hasan and now Umar Abdulmutallab.
Lastly, given the media’s claimed if not historical role in holding the government accountable to the people, I would be interested in hearing from CNN on why they chose not to air this portion of their interview with Napolitano. Was it at the request of the Administration given the tone-deafness of this particular response? I think I can confidently say that Americans by an overwhelming margin view Islamic terrorism as the most pressing threat to our safety. It’s time for the Administration to demonstrate that this is the highest priority for them as well.